Review: BENT HEAVENS by Daniel Kraus (2020)

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: 2020
Source: Chicago Public Library

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Torture, PTSD, poverty, psychosis, blood, bullying

Liv Flemming retreated from all but her best friend Doug when her dad went missing two years prior to the start of the story. Lee Flemming claimed to have been captured by aliens, and his ensuing psychotic episodes made him a bit of a lost cause to the town’s authorities. But when an unidentified humanoid winds up in the woods behind her house, Liv will stop at nothing to find out what really happened to her father.

Pissed all the way off and horrifying, this book has twists and turns with a compelling character arc of understanding and the prices paid for the truth.

This story is so wonderfully balanced between Liv’s perspective and humanizing the high school English her father was. There are parts when it’s disorienting, though not in the typical ways of a first contact story. Liv is traumatized, grieving, and trying to balance her new reality with the strangeness of what could have happened. The high school segments were particularly compelling to me. The slipstream between what normal should be and what reality very much isn’t flows from scene to scene.

From what I’m familiar with in his other works, Kraus does not shy away from the body horror. The details are close and they are brutal. What really works here is how he also doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the psychic damage being done to Liv. No aspect of anything going on in this book is easy. The layers woven into these brisk 300 pages leave a lot to be unpacked, and the twists at the end will stay with me for a bit.

One thought on “Review: BENT HEAVENS by Daniel Kraus (2020)

  1. Pingback: May 2021 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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